Sunday, January 27, 2008

Film is Dead to Me

Camera film.
We decided to go to the Bald Eagle Festival on the Upper Skagit River. For this, I felt I needed a decent telephoto and that meant dusting-off the Nikon 8008. My little digital (which is a great camera, doesn't have the range I felt I'd need.
I hit the stores on the Island, but no one had Fuji slide film, my film of choice. I found a camera store in Mt. Vernon, on the way, so we stopped in there Saturday morning.
"Gee, no. We don't have slide film. I _had_ a few rolls, but someone must have bought them."
"OK, I'll take some Fuji 100 print film."
"Sorry. I only have Kodak 400."
This is not a tragedy, of course, but I had spent the week convincing myself that I could merely stock up on slide film and wait out the process of shot-process-select-scan-edit for a lot less money than buying a decent digital body that would use my old lenses.
I was wrong.
And now I also feel obliged to "finish off" the roll before sending it in. I had forgotten that aspect of film photography.
So I guess an upgrade is in store. Believe me, I had other plans for the money.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dead Rats

Ah, you have to love working in the near-outside. A rat has died inside the wall near my terminal where I work.
Aromatic, to say the least. It's almost enough to make your eyes water. Helpfully, my office has been sprayed with a variety of odor-combatting aerosols. The first one left an over-powering aroma of coconut. As it faded, I was left with what I could only think of as a dead-rat-wearing-suntan-lotion smell.
Today, I was treated to some room-spray stuff that put a tang in the air. Sure, it covered the smell of rotting rat, but it gave me a headache.
At least it's below freezing outside, so the smell has abated a bit. 
I don't look forward to warm weather...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

SteamPunk: Colony of California

In my alternate history, a couple of things happened a bit differently than they did in our timeline.
Mainly, at the outset of the Mexican-American War, General Taylor was stopped at the Rio Grande by Santa Anna, preventing the American conquest of Mexico. The British Royal Navy, on the way to Esquimalt Bay (Victoria, B.C.) stopped in at Yerba Buena (San Francisco) while Commodore Stockton's fleet was down in Monterey, CA scaring the locals. While Stockton took control of Monterey and sailed for Los Angeles, the RN fleet raised the Union Jack over the collection of huts in Yerba Buena. Immediately sensing the value of the sheltered harbor of the great Bay, they renamed Yerba Buena, calling it New Victoria.
With Taylor stopped on the border of Mexico, Senator Abe Lincoln shouted down Senator Benton's Manifest Destiny and the treaty of Oregon was never signed.
This left the British claim to the Oregon Territory without contest; British Columbia extended along the Continental Divide south as far as the New Victoria Bay and the southern border with Mexico was set at Monterey.
Now the Crown Colony of California, for a short time declared a free Republic, is a useful British colony and with the discovery of gold in 1850, a very valuable one.
The influx of gold and the taxes upon it drew inventors as well as miners; the new steam fleet is being built in the NVBay, and there are even a few experimental steam-screw airships serving as scouts over the Sierra Nevadas, guarding the border with the United States.

More later!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A SteamPunk story begins

Despite work being work, I've hit upon a story line I am pretty jazzed about writing! It all began with looking at some web pages about Victorian Science Fiction (also known as SteamPunk). I'm a wargamer among other things, and I thought that might be fun to take a shot at.
Next thing you know, I'd gone to a web page that creates "Peculiar Aristocratic Title" for you. (Here it is: I already had a name I liked: Hollister McAllister, a seller of Patent Medicines in the Old West.
One thing lead to another and I'd managed to place Hollister McAllister into a story line. I wanted to wargame a SteamPunk battle, so here it is: Hollister McAllister has recruited an army of Sasquatch to help him take control of the California Gold fields in 1850. He is confronted by Franklin Benjamin Root, an Army Lieutenant on a secret mission to carry a message to John Fremont.
Let's say that Radium, an indian shaman, and the Sasquatch belief that they are the True People leads to many conflicts I can game.
Hollister's new Snake Oil has large doses of Radium and psychedelics mixed in. It turns out to be a disaster for most people, but an accidental overdose for FBRoot results in some special powers that he'll need if he's to prevent Hollister's bid to control the budding new Republic of California!

And I still got my work done today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Happy New Year to all.
My tradition is to spend New Year's Day setting the tone for the coming year. This means I try to spend it doing the things I'd like to do more of in the coming year, and avoiding the activities I don't really want to repeat.
I got plenty of sleep last night (the first act of the New Year) and had tea instead of coffee with a nice breakfast. We've gone for a walk, saw our shadows briefly (a thing to be treasured during a NorthWest Winter), and now I've got iTunes playing through some really old Pink Floyd while I work on the draft of a new book.
What could be better than that? What's left to do? I would enjoy having a good glass of wine; I'd like some physical affection; I'd love to win the lottery.
Maybe I'll count my blessings and remember that it is one's desires that lead to unhappiness. Without desires, one is automatically happier.